BLUE JACKETS 1 | RANGERS 2
Josh Anderson Post Game
Scott Hartnell Post Game
Ryan Johansen Post Game
Todd Richards Post Game
Scott Hartnell Goal
ANALYSIS: The Blue Jackets have played a better game tonight than they did two nights ago against Montreal, but they've also made a couple of crucial mistakes that are indicative of the current margin. They trail 2-0 on goals from Marc Staal and Chris Kreider, both born from breakdowns in coverage. The Blue Jackets couldn't get out of their zone on the Staal goal, and a turnover wound up on the stick of Staal in the slot, and he squeaked one through Bobrovsky for the game's opening goal at 5:59. Then it was Kreider sprung on a long stretch pass from Derek Stepan, and a quick fake to the backhand enabled Kreider to beat Bobrovsky along the ice for a two-goal advantage four minutes later. Columbus' 24 shots through two periods have generated quality chances but they've been unable to beat Henrik Lundqvist, who's been pretty good so far. Once again, the home team needs a big third period to get back in this game...can they make it happen?
Second Period Highlights
ANALYSIS: That was probably the best period the Blue Jackets have played in two weeks. They were in on the forecheck, finishing checks, winning battles in all three zones, and overall, played a sound game for 20 minutes but the only thing missing was a goal or two. They had their chances, putting 14 shots on Henrik Lundqvist and making things difficult for the Rangers defense - particularly on the breakout. Columbus' only power play of the first period was vibrant and active, generating chances from both down low and at the points with traffic all around the New York net. They'll need more of what they did and plenty more in the next 40 minutes in order to get on the board, and then get on the board a few more times.
First Period Highlights
UPDATE (10:05 AM): Here are the lines and pairings from this morning's skate...
- Some line changes for Todd Richards' squad this morning. Dalton Prout will come back into the lineup in place of Cody Goloubef, who skated with Jordan Leopold during line rushes. Josh Anderson was recalled yesterday from Springfield with forward Jack Skille placed on injured reserve. He skated on the third line, while Brandon Dubinsky was moved down to center the fourth line.
- Matt Calvert was missing from the morning skate. There will be an update on his status after Coach Richards' press conference.
It's a rivalry night in Columbus!
Rick Nash and the Rangers enter tonight's game as one of the league's hottest teams, and quickly climbing the ladder in the Eastern Conference. The Blue Jackets hope to stop their losing streak before heading out on the road for their final three contests before the All-Star break.
The Blue Jackets won the first contest between these two squads back on Oct. 11 - the Jackets' home opener. That was a game that was missing some key faces from both teams' current rosters. Rangers center Derek Stepan was missing with a broken leg, Dan Boyle missing with a broken hand, and Henrik Lundqvist on the bench. Columbus' Brandon Dubinsky was out of the lineup recovering from abdominal surgery and Kevin Connauton was still wearing a Stars jersey. Those Jackets players will be ready to go tomorrow, while Stepan's status remains in question as he recovers from an upper-body injury.
Here are a few more notes before the Jackets' final home game before All-Star:
- As always, a meeting between the Blue Jackets and Rangers will mean a lot of familiar faces for both teams. The Blue Jackets roster features former Ranger Brandon Dubinsky, while the Rangers come in with former Jackets Derick Brassard, John Moore, Nash, and assistant coach Scott Arniel. Another former Ranger, Artem Anisimov, scored the first goal in the previous meeting between these two squads, but he remains out of the lineup recovering from a torn triceps muscle. Moore, dealt to New York as part of the Marian Gaborik deal, is still trying to find a consistent spot on the Ranger blue line. He had dressed in four straight after being a healthy scratch sporadically in December in favor of Matt Hunwick. Hunwick dressed in Moore's place on Thursday night in Boston.
- Rick Nash is having a strong offensive season, tied for the league lead with 26 goals. He's also played pretty well against his old squad. It's a small sample size, but Nash has three goals in four games against the Blue Jackets. Nash has scored 12 of his 26 goals this season on the road.
- Another player who's scoring at a daily rate is Ryan Johansen. With his third period power play goal against Montreal, Johansen extended his points streak to 11 games (7-6-13), setting a new franchise record. Johansen has seven goals in the past seven games and has had some decent success against the Rangers, as well. Johansen has a goal and two assists in six career games against New York, not to mention a shootout winner.
- The Blue Jackets will be waiting in Columbus while the Rangers fly in after a Thursday night game in Boston. While the Rangers will be playing a back-to-back, that may not necessarily be a problem for them. The Rangers are 4-2-0 in the second half of back-to-backs this season, with their two losses coming early in the season when the Rangers were struggling. They are 14-6-0 in the tail end of consecutive games in their two seasons under Alain Vigneault.
- Don't forget to get down to Nationwide Arena early for the game tonight and hit the ice at the Scotts Miracle-Gro Community Rink at All-Star Winter Park presented by Worthington Industries! The ice opens to the public Friday afternoon, with the first session scheduled from 12-1:30 PM. The full schedule for public skating can be found here.